Friday, December 31, 2010

What's happening for New Year's Eve in the neighborhood?

New Year's Eve is upon us: some people live for it, some think it's amateur night. But here's what I've found of what's happening in the neighborhood.

The Red Derby generally does nothing except a champagne toast (no cover or dress code), so that's a good spot if you don't want dressed-up folks and hullaballoo. Same with Wonderland, generally pretty chill. I would assume the Looking Glass is the same way.

The new sports bar next to Looking Glass, the Blue Banana, is also doing the no cover, no dress code, and a champagne toast at midnight thing.

Meridian Pint is a little fancier, with no cover but a three-course prix fixe menu, plus a complimentary rare beer toast at midnight. They also have late night breakfast until 3 am, which sounds awesome.

I'm not too sure what Room 11 or Commonwealth are doing, anyone know?

And what are your plans?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Nice Christmas story: presents delivered by somebody to the right address

Just when you thought all the post-Christmas news was bad (car fires, travel problems, etc.) here's a nice one from the Columbia Heights listserve:
On Christmas Day, some friends asked me if I had received their Christmas gift which was to be delivered by FedEx on Christmas Eve.  Alas, no gift was to be found despite assurances from FedEx that it had been delivered.
This afternoon, the package arrived on my doorstep thanks to a Columbia Heights neighbor.  Apparently the package had been mislabeled for delivery about six blocks away from my place.  The person who received it was kind enough to do the research to find out where I live and to deliver the package.
Getting the gift was great.  Knowing that we have good neighbors like that in Columbia Heights is priceless.
I don't know who you are, Santa.  But thanks!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Scary photo of the car fire on Spring Road

A reader sent this picture of the car fire on Spring Road between 14th and 16th at about 12:30 am on Wednesday. Pretty insane. Their description:
We were worried that the power lines were going to catch on fire the flames were shooting so high. The photo doesnt even really capture how intense it was - but it's a start. the actually first "blast" shook our house, and then there were repeated blasts following that, as more windows blew out.

The guy on the street was a person who came out to see what was happening.

I emailed MPD Chief Lanier, who forwarded me to the fire department. I'll keep the blog updated on what I hear.

More car fires at 16th and Spring?

Mini Cooper fire from August
Uh oh, more car fires. A few months ago I wrote about a rash of car and moped fires around the 14th-16th and Spring Road area. The fire department was classifying them all as "mechanical failures" rather than arson. News got out about this and the city was going to investigate, but then the DC9 shooting happened and I haven't heard anything since.

And now it sounds like some similar fires are happening. Just got these comments on the the previous car fire post:
Anonymous said...
This morning I drove past a burnt Nissan Armada on the intersection of 16th st and Spring st NW. The car arsonist is still around!
December 29, 2010 9:44 AM

Concerned said...
A car exploded in front of our house last night at 12:30 on Spring Road. It did not seem like a mechanical fire as it sounded like a bomb blast. What can we all do about this extraordinarily concerning trend?
December 29, 2010 10:56 AM
 I emailed Jim Graham about this and will email Chief Lanier soon, we'll see. Let's hope this gets investigated and stopped.

And if you see any car fires, CALL THE POLICE!

Rat infestation on Perry Place

Yuh oh. Sounds like the alley behind 1400 Perry Place NW, between Otis and Spring, has a rat problem. There's been some listserve traffic about it, there's trash getting dumped and the city hasn't done anything about it, despite it getting reported by residents. As the resident puts it, there are two issues: one, that the city needs to take care of the trash dumping issue, and two, that they need to respond to citizen complaints.

Jim Graham got involved and contacted DPW, who said they sent out a team and were waiting for a response, but residents aren't so sure it happened.

Not a great situation for the folks whose houses are on the alley, but at least it brings the issue up. If you see trash getting dumped, report it to the city. If it keeps happening, it can cause real health issues with rats and more, aside from just looking bad.

And make sure they actually follow-up on your complaints!

Spanish classes for kids in the neighborhood

This sounds cool: always nice for kids to speak another language, especially a very useful one like Spanish.
Registration is Open Now for Saturday Spanish classes for young children beginning in January. When you combine the fun of a playgroup + the learning of a workshop, you get a Prata Creative Playshop for early language discovery. We create Fun+Learn experiences for children to learn foreign languages naturally in a playful immersion way.

Parents & Tots: 18 mos. – young 3yrs. 10-10:50am
Just Kids: older 3s – 5 yrs. 11-11:50am

Location: Josephine Butler Parks Center, 2437 15th St. NW, DC 20009

Free Parking on premises Dates: Winter session, Jan 8 – Mar 12 (10 weeks) Program
fee: $190/child

Register online at

To learn more about our exciting curriculum, interactive activities and dynamic teachers, call or email, or 202.656.0044.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Happy holidays! We'll be back soon.

Hope everyone had fun holidays, whether they were in DC or somewhere else. New Columbia Heights will be back in a day or so.

In the meantime, here's my favorite Christmas song, which also happened to be on the Simpsons the other night.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Got trees? Keep them alive in the winter months

One of the things that makes a street or a yard nicer is trees. With winter coming up, it's important to make sure your trees won't be damaged by the cold Casey Trees, a local nonprofit I've written about before, has a list of some things you can do to keep your trees healthy.

We don't have to deal with the deer tips in Columbia Heights, but the rest are useful.

Here are the tips.

Neighborhood Christmas lights, volume 1

Over the past few days I've been walking around, trying to spot houses with decent Christmas displays. Of course, there was the big, crazy musical one on 13th, but there are some smaller ones I've seen too.
Pardon the cell phone pics. Here's two on Otis Place:

And here's Irving between 13th and 14th and 13th next to the musical house:

Know of any other good spots for Christmas lights?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Duck and cover: Fallout shelters in the neighborhood

Remember fallout shelters? Those Cold War-era buildings where you were supposed to flee to get out of the radioactive fallout generated when the Russkies nuked us? Some interested folks in DC have started tracking where the fallout shelter signs are and were around the city, and there are quite a few in our area. Many of the buildings have since been replaced, but some still exist.

They started a website called District Fallout, and Greater Greater Washington has a long post from one of the organizers. They even created a web map tracking where signs are or were: the yellow ones are signs that still exist. Looks like there's one on the La Casa building and a few others in our area. Red is no sign there, and blue is unknown.

View Fallout Shelters in the District of Columbia in a larger map

There's also a news item about the effort from RT, aka Russia Today, a Russia-centric news service which you can get on Comcast. (And oddly, I used to work with Bill Brown, who they interview.) They even mention the video game Fallout 3, which took place in a post-nuclear apocalypse DC.

H/T to Park View DC for writing about this first.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Cool audio-guided art walk in the neighborhood: Walk With Me

Something cool I missed earlier: a group of artists have put together an audiowalk in Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant called Walk With Me -- basically you download an MP3 and a map and you walk to different places around the neighborhood as you listen to the MP3. Their description:
Walk With Me takes you on a brisk tour of the Columbia Heights and Mount Pleasant neighborhoods in Washington, DC. Immerse yourself in the three stories of people who call this neighborhood home and be woven into the fabric of a living urban art adventure.
They had a big mass walk on the weekend of the 12th, but you can still download the package and do it yourself. Sounds like something fun to do on a lazy weekend day. It's 40 minutes long.

Crazy Christmas lights display on 13th Street, with sound

The other day a reader tipped me off to this Christmas light display on 13th Street between Monroe and Otis. It blinks like crazy and actually plays music synced to the lights, though it's a little hard to hear in this video. The tipster says it turns off at 11 pm.

What do you think? Cool or ridiculous?

Friday, December 17, 2010

Blue Banana sports bar next to Looking Glass opening early next week

About a month ago I wrote that the Blue Banana sports bar was about to open. The spot, then called the Green Room, is on Georgia Avenue next to the Looking Glass Lounge. And now the Post reports it will be open on Monday or Tuesday. It was supposed to open today, but they had some delivery problems.

It's a pretty small spot (see right) and the Post says it's really trying to be a neighborhood sports bar, with 10 TVs on the walls and a dozen beers on tap from $5-$7. Thursdays are half price beer, which is pretty sweet. They also plan to have a sort of membership system where if you live nearby you can get a card that entitles you to certain deals and specials. There's also a small stage in front, and they plan to have cover bands play there.

I'm pretty happy to see a traditional (hopefully) sports bar in the neighborhood, as otherwise you have to go to somewhere like Ventnor in Adams Morgan. Meridian Pint is sort of a sports bar, but not really.

As for the name Blue Banana, it comes from the movie Pretty Woman, as that was the name of the bar where the hookers hung out. Kind of a weird choice for a sports bar, but hey.

They have a new website too. They're located at 3632 Georgia Ave NW.

Photo by Kent at Park View DC

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Ward One's population is shrinking??

That's what the Census estimates from the American Community Survey say. I find that hard to believe.

Greater Greater Washington writers and commenters attribute it to lower family sizes in Ward 1 as new single residents or couples come in, replacing families, while William Jordan attributes it to "Pay to play land speculation," displacement by gentrifiers and a Census estimate revision from a few years ago. 

In 2006, a Census estimate came out saying the city's population had dropped, to which the city disagreed, citing new construction and increased tax filings in the city. The Census looked again and revised the estimate up, meaning the city gained population for the first time since 1950. Jordan says this re-estimate was too high, and thus this new estimate is correct.

Here's my take: there certainly has been displacement, and that's something we need to look at, but there's also been tons of new construction. Look at 14th Street, where many new condo and apartment buildings replaced abandoned buildings and empty lots. I can't think of any examples where they replaced occupied apartment buildings.

And all over the neighborhood, abandoned houses have been renovated into multiple housing units. Sure, most of the newcomers don't have families, but some do or are couples. To me, hundreds of new people moving into new condos and apartments would be more than the number of families who move out of houses and are replaced by one or two people.

Mike DeBonis also tweeted that Ward 1 voter registration is up 25% over the past 7 years.

Of course, this is just an estimate, and may be wrong. The ACS is based on samples of data rather than actual counts, and it's also an average over five years. We'll see when the 2010 Census numbers come out.

Update: Jordan did not attribute who is doing the displacing.

Photo by Mr. T in DC

Construction begins on 2400 14th retail and apartments, replacing Nehemiah Center

It's been about two years, but the empty lot at 14th and Belmont that replaced the Nehemiah Center finally has some construction work happening. I passed by today and there's construction equipment, workers, and trailers for the construction company. The building replacing it, to be called 2400 14th Street, will be a 255 unit residential building with ground floor retail.

Originally, Level 2 Development was going to build the project with the same name starting in mid-2008. Those plans fell through. The property was then sold to UDR, which doesn't have anything on their site about it.

DC mud reported that the plans will mostly stay the same, however: here is Level 2's version. The place will be 9 stories, have partially underground parking, and probably nice views of the city considering it's on the uphill part of the street. DC mud reported two years ago there would be apartments instead of condos, but that may have changed

Hopefully that ground floor retail fares better than View 14 and the other similar places nearby, which have a bunch of empty ground floor retail spots. The retail is 18,5000 square feet and could be anywhere from 2 to 5 tenants, DC mud reports, and they'll be "reserved for businesses that supply neighborhood wants and needs: such as a grocery/convenience store, restaurants, bank, café, etc." Let's hope it's something good -- maybe something we're missing?

What it looks like today
The lot, which covers the entire west side of 14th from Belmont to Chapin, used to be a suburban-style shopping center called the Nehemiah Center with parking in front, and very few tenants: a pizza place, a laundromat, a cash advance place and so on. There was a fair amount of crime, drug dealing and loitering there. The tenants gradually left and it was demolished about two years ago.

Donohoe Construction is building it, and Shalom Baranes Architects are designing it.

It's snowing!

I guess that means Christmas is finally here. It was starting to stick this morning as I left for work, but reports are saying 1-2". We'll see. In any case, here's my favorite Christmas song, in honor of the snow and holiday times: "Christmas in Hollis" by Run DMC.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Weather: Columbia Heights DC or Minnesota?

It's cold out there. Can you guess which of these weather reports is for Columbia Heights, DC and Columbia Heights, Minnesota? Remember that the wind chill here was at 5 degrees yesterday morning. The answer is at the bottom.

The answer: the 1st is DC and the 2nd is MN. Scarily, they're not too different: 50% chance of snow, similarly frigid temperatures. I'd rather our weather was a little less Minnesota-y around now.

Christmasy jazz musician playing at Giant

The other day a friend noticed that there was a keyboard player in Giant, playing jazzy versions of Christmas music. The musician is Marcus Johnson, and he was there as part of a deal -- if you buy Coke products at Giant, you get a free CD by him.

Deals aside, I think this is cool, having musicians play at local stores. The occasional musicians outside the Metro are generally pretty good and I always like seeing them. (The guys will bullhorns, not so much.) The Community Marketplace also had musicians, which was nice. I'd like to see this sort of thing more often.

Photo by Eddie Kim

Fancy corner store: Sonya's Market going upscale?

Just got a tip from a reader that Sonya's Market, the corner store/bodega at 11th and Harvard, has added some new, fancier items: things like prosciutto, artichoke hearts, and soy milk. The reader notes they are more expensive than Giant on most things, but then you're paying for convenience.

This is an interesting phenomenon though, the usually mostly identical corner stores starting to change their selections to reflect the neighborhood. I would guess we'll continue to see more of this sort of specialization and adaptation. This sort of thing happened on U Street too, where the Best DC Supermarket went from being your average, drab independent supermarket to getting refurbished and selling fancier items as the clientele in the area changed.

I wrote about Sonya's before in my Beer Run series, where I check out the beer selection of corner stores. They were a bit high then too.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

First look at Hella Tuff, a vintage store on Fairmont

This past weekend I checked out Hella Tuff's grand opening. It's a little vintage clothing DIY spot in the basement of 1200 Fairmont, run by Jessica Louise Dye. In short: pretty cool.

It's not a large space, basically a basement studio apartment, but there's a lot of neat stuff. 

The way in
There was a men's rack with cool t-shirts, plaid cowboy-type shirts, jackets and coats, funky sweaters, and more. I bought a blue button-up with snaps and an Alamo t-shirt for $25. The women's section was bigger and a lot of folks seemed to find things they liked -- sweaters, tops, and so on. 

There's also a nice selection of shoes, from cool sneakers to crazy big high heels, plus other accessories like hats and purses. There's also a whole cabinet of vintage kitchenware and some funny crafts, like a scarf with a felt penis on it. Yup.

I liked the vibe of the place: there was a drum kit and guitars in the corner (Dye is also in the band Lightfoot), the fitting room is a sheet where an old sink is, and it's just a cool, homey space.

As for rules about having a shop, which a commenter asked about previously, Dye said she had her bases covered, she doesn't make enough money to get taxed, and she does track every receipt.

It'll be open Saturdays 11am-3pm and by appointment: Dye mentioned she's often out shopping for vintage things, so if you were interested in a certain item, give her a buzz. They also buy vintage clothes by appointment. The Facebook page has more on the spot.

(Pardon my crummy cameraphone shots.)

Get Christmas trees, chicken and duck eggs from CH Farmers Market vendors

The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace may be done for the season, but that doesn't mean you can't still buy things from them. The Community Marketplace folks posted this messages on several local listserves. Sounds like a good spot for a tree or some breakfast food, especially if you wanted to keep patronizing Community Marketplace vendors:
* Christmas trees

For those of you who might still be in search of the perfect Christmas tree, please consider the trees from Licking Creek Bend Farm, one of the growers that participates in the Marketplace. Mike Tabor's farm grows Colorado Blue Spruce, Douglas Fir, White Pine, Canaan Fir and Con-color Fir. To order trees (as well as wreaths and roping) ranging in price from $30 to $125, contact Mike and Esther ASAP at esiegel2(at)
* Chicken and duck eggs during the winter

Ned Dykes, owner of Twin Post Farm (also a Marketplace participant) will be bringing chicken and duck eggs periodically during the winter months. Weather permitting, he will sell eggs at Domku Restaurant at 821 Upshur Strret on the following SUNDAYS from 10 a.m. until noon: December 19th and January 9th, 16th, 23rd and 30th. We will keep you informed about delivery dates beyond January, or you can e-mail Ned and Eileen at ndykes112(at)

Party with Jim Graham! Tonight at NW Columbia Heights holiday fest

Have you ever wanted to party with Jim Graham? Who hasn't!

Jokes aside, the Northwest Columbia Heights Civic Association is having their holiday party tonight. Here's more:
Please come! Join your neighbors in the Columbia Heights community for the NWCHCA Holiday Party:

Date: Tuesday, December 14, 2010Time: From 6:30 to 8:30
Place: St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, 1525 Newton Street NW (at 16th) - Upstairs Auditorium

Special Honored Guest: Ward One Councilmember Jim Graham

Holiday goodies, musical performances, and prizes! Bring a holiday treat to share if you like.Free of charge, all are welcome--please come and bring your neighbors! Please share the attached flyer.

Thanks & Happy Holidays!

Cecilia Jones
President, Northwest Columbia Heights Community Association (NWCHCA)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Now: Barack and Michelle Obama sign bill in Columbia Heights

Looks like the First Family is in our neighborhood: the President and First Lady are at Tubman Elementary School at 13th and Irving this morning to sign the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act. There's a video now on the White House's website. Nancy Pelosi is there too.

I wonder if this explains why I saw so many police cars on 14th Street this morning? 

This isn't the first time the Obamas have been in the neighborhood, either. See some past visits.

H/T to the Heights Life's Twitter for the heads-up.

A bit more on tonight's Christmas tree lighting

A few people contacted me about tonight's Christmas tree lighting tonight at 6 pm, as there weren't many details about it on the internet. Turns out it's being organized by the District Church, a new church in Columbia Heights. Here's more about it from them:
Just wanted to let you know that it's been us at The District Church who've been working with the city to organize the Christmas tree (and lighting) at the Columbia Heights Plaza. We just started a church in the neighborhood a couple months ago, and thought it'd be a perfect location to bring folks together for some good ol' Christmas/holiday cheer!
The reason you haven't seen much publicity anywhere is that we've been working to make sure that it was lined up first--the plan is to distribute fliers and postcards around the area this weekend.
As mentioned, the tree will be on the Civic Plaza, at 14th/Park/Kenyon. Personally I think it's a neat idea, but you could make an argument that this is a religious emblem, which I think some folks on PoP said -- your thoughts?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Update on water: 11th Street, Mt. Pleasant Street mains are fixed

Good news. I received an email from Alan Heymann, director of public affairs for DC Water:
...Both of the water mains referenced in your post have been repaired, and water service restored. They were not related to each other, and had nothing to do with the media reports last week. We don’t (and can’t) provide advance notice before emergency repair work. When work is planned construction, we provide at least 48 hours’ notice to our customers who will be affected.

Our Command Center folks don’t always take down the postings to our website when repairs are completed faster than the estimated time. We’re working on that.

If your readers ever have any issues with water, they can call (202) 612-3400 anytime, or send a tweet to @mydcwater.


Lots of water issues today: 11th and Euclid, Mt. Pleasant and Irving

Mt. Pleasant Street and Irving, via DCist Martin
Looks like DC Water (aka WASA) is having some issues in our area this morning. There was a water main break on 11th between Clifton and Euclid, and another at Mt. Pleasant Street and Irving. I received this email from a resident of 11th Street:
I live on 11th Street, NW, between Clifton and Euclid.  Since last night, DC Water-related construction has been taking place on a nearby house, and the water in my house has been turned off.  It is now 7:28 AM, and I am unable to shower for work or have running water of any kind.  The construction crew has informed me that the DC Water representatives have left to take care of another matter, and water service will likely not be restored for some time. [Ed: I'm guessing this was the MtP break]  This water outage occurred without notice to neighbors and we were unable to make any plans to preemptively stock up on purchased water prior to this situation.  They were doing construction on the other side of the street earlier in the week, and last night they tore up someone's yard to do work.  Maybe this is due to the reports about lead earlier in the week.  Any ideas what this could have been? 
DC Water's website has both breaks as current issues. For the 11th Street one, it says the 8" water main is supposed to be finished by today at 5:30 am, which is clearly not the case, and that "Some customers in the area may experience a disruption in water service until repairs are complete." It says the exact same thing for the MtP one, which leads me to believe they're related.

Where are the Christmas lights in the neighborhood?

I've noticed a disturbing trend this holiday season: a lack of Christmas lights. Last year friends and I walked around looking at the different done-up houses, but this year I've seen almost none aside from a couple of decorated trees.

The only big display I've seen is the house on 11th between Monroe and Otis, which has a bunch of huge, inflatable things: Santa in a race car, a motorized carousel, and some other things (pictured here). That place did the same thing last year, and for that, I commend them.

I wonder why there are fewer displays out there? Maybe the economy is affecting people, so they don't want to spend less on electricity bills and lights? Or maybe we're all just Scrooges.

Have you seen any nice displays? Where!?

Columbia Heights in 1890, 1921, 2002: Photos at 14th/Kenyon/Park

Pretty amazing shot from 2002 by Michael Wilkinson, whose family owns Pete's Apizza. The picture is from the Tivoli Theater down 14th starting with the intersection of 14th Street, Park Road and Kenyon Street.

As we all know, the change is incredible. The building that now has the CVS and the apartments to the south of it are still there in the distance, as are the two Metro entrances, but pretty much every other lot has changed.

The triangle to the left is where the Civic Plaza is now, and across 14th, where the Vitamin Shoppe corner of DCUSA is, there was a Payless Shoes, something called Value Express, a laundromat, and what looks like an empty building. Payless later moved into DCUSA. There's a hot dog cart there too, I wonder if that's the same cart that's there today.

Everything else is empty. In the full size version, behind the Payless you can see a pile of rubble and the old facade (formerly a car dealership) that was later incorporated into the Best Buy side of DCUSA.

And here's a similar view of the same intersection on Google Streetview from a few months ago.

Going farther back, Flickr user Rockcreek has this shot of the Vitamin Shoppe corner of 14th and Park in 1912, from the Library of Congress. Peoples later was purchased by CVS. It looks like it's the same exact building as the Payless above.

And here's the same corner in 1890, as the home of a John Levi. Interesting that all four times (including today) kept that cut off corner in the building.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Columbia Heights Christmas tree lighting on Monday

Via PoP, there's a Christmas tree lighting ceremony on Monday at the Civic Plaza. I like this idea a lot! I hope to see a lot of people out there.
“The inaugural Columbia Heights Christmas tree will be lit on Monday, December 13. Everyone is invited to this neighborhood event!
Performances from local school choirs! Hot chocolate! Holiday cheer!
Where: Columbia Heights Plaza, 14th and Kenyon Streets NW
When: Monday, December 13, 6:00pm”
Unfortunately I have no idea who is organizing is, as I haven't seen it anywhere else. If you know more about it, post in the comments or email me: newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Where can you get Christmas trees in the area?

A few folks have asked me where to get Christmas trees in the neighborhood, and I don't rightly know.

So I'm asking you, the readers: where did you get yours, and where can you buy them in the area?

I know they have artificial trees at Target and real wreaths at Giant, but that's all I know.

Please post your suggestions in the comments!

Vintage store on Fairmont having their grand opening on Saturday

Hella Tuff, a "basement boutique" at 1200 Fairmont Street NW, is having their grand opening this Saturday from 11am-5pm. It sounds pretty fun, and I'm always happy to see cool new retail like this coming to the neighborhood.

Here's the details, their website, and a Facebook invite:
Come celebrate the launch of Hella Tuff Vintage's new space with a huge shopping party! Drinks! Snacks! DJ's! Bands! Fun!

The shop is overflowing with amazing goodies! Racks of dresses, skirts, furs, blouses, leather, t-shits, western shirts, gowns, sweaters, blazers and more! Mens and women's! Shoes, scarves, hats, Coach purses, wallets, socks, suspenders!

Kitchenwares, vintage plates, cups, kettles, dinner sets, aprons, table clothes, serving platters, and ice cream makers!

Knick knacks galore from old 60's phones to type writers to record players to antique cameras.

Everything is one of a kind, so don't miss out!
After the 11th, the shop will be open Monday and Wednesday from 6pm-9pm, and Saturday from 10am-1pm.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Do you do Capital Bikeshare? How do you like it?

Recently Capital Bikeshare put up a number of racks in our neighborhood -- outside Giant, at 14th and Harvard, 16th and Harvard, 11th and Kenyon, and Georgia and Fairmont. It seems like the racks are used pretty regularly, but a few friends had asked me about it, and I haven't used it.

Are there any users out there who can say in the comments how it is? How's the prices, are bikes available when you want them, is it easy to take and drop off bikes?

Local art space BloomBars in need of donations

Local art space BloomBars, a non-profit spot just north of Wonderland that hosts music, poetry, art, and more, is having a tough time lately when it comes to fundraising. "Like a lot of folks, we're hurting," said BloomBars founder John Chambers to DCist. "Our immediate need for funds is critical."

They've done a lot of good stuff, so help them out. For example, most of the arts posts on this blog are about BloomBars events. Take a look:

Dear Friends of BloomBars,
In a matter of days, we may be facing a world without BloomBars.
No more guitar lessons for kids every Sunday. No more impromptu jam sessions among new friends at Cipherstock. No more open mics for high school students and other artists honing their crafts as poets, musicians, comedians and storytellers in a supportive, alcohol-free, all-ages space. And no more music wafting out of our double-doors into the streets of Columbia Heights, welcoming neighbors and passerby to share the experience.
Please take 3 minutes to make a tax-deductible online donation to BloomBars to help us prevent this from becoming a reality. BloomBars is calling on people like you, who believe that art can transform communities and change lives, to donate now and stay in our home!
How often do you see children as young as 5 performing at an open mic? Or youth at a Saturday night rock concert bonding with the musicians during sound check? Or high school teachers sharing their poetry at an event attended primarily by their (cheering) students?
How often do you see people from all over the city and world-- regardless of age, race, or income-- come together and give a stranger a hug after listening to local musicians?
There aren't many places where cultural, generational, and socioeconomic diversity come together in a physical space-- particularly not around the arts. The simple choice to provide an alcohol-free, all-ages space for learning, performing, and engaging with each other has had amazing effects.
Without your support today our ability to keep growing (and the doors open) is in jeopardy.
I’ve heard BloomBars called a “venue.” It is not. It is you. It is me. It is our community. And its future is not guaranteed. Please, help us continue planting seeds.We are counting on your support and your help in spreading the word!
Until Soon, Keep Blooming.
John R. Chambers
Chief Executive Gardener

Columbia Heights on TV, sort of, in Lie to Me

We're famous, kind of. My buddy was watching the Fox show Lie to Me a couple of days ago, which stars Tim Roth as a DC-based psychologist who can tell when people are lying. There was a mention of Columbia Heights at the beginning of the episode called "Veronica," when a woman gets hit by a car and says she lives at "105 Addison, Columbia Heights." You can actually watch the episode online -- the neighborhood gets mentioned about a minute in.

Of course, there is no 105 Addison in Columbia Heights or even an Addison in DC at all. Even if there were, 105 would presumably be pretty close to North Capitol Street, and thus not in Columbia Heights. They drive to the address, which is this art gallery. From the rest of the show, it doesn't look like they shoot much in DC, which is too bad. It would be cool to have an art gallery in the neighborhood, however.

While I appreciate the mention of the neighborhood, it's kind of annoying that they couldn't take 10 seconds and find an actual street on Google Maps. Maybe it's for liability reasons or something, but it's not like people are going to go camp out at some random address mentioned on Lie to Me. But in any case, kind of neat that we're getting mentioned.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Whiskey Week happy hour at Room 11: High West whiskey

Are you a whiskey fan? Get yourself to Room 11 tonight, which is hosting a happy hour from 5-7 pm with the proprietor and distiller of High West Distillery, a small distillery in Park City, Utah (which apparently you can ski into). I've had some High West stuff before at Room 11 and it's pretty delicious. This is part of Whiskey Week, a new event that local bars and restaurants are trying out.

Aside from good whiskey, there are some deals too. Here's more from an email: they'll be "offering samples of a very limited High West barrel aged Manhattan cocktail and we'll have drink specials and flights of High West's award winning ryes."

Rough few days for pedestrians in the area

Be careful out there: last Wednesday night two people were hit by vehicles; one was a Metro bus, another a taxicab. The bus incident was at 16th and Spring Place NW at 10 pm, a block south of Spring Road. The bus didn't have any passengers, and Metro reports that the man ran in front of the bus. The man had non-life threatening injuries. At 11 pm, a taxi struck a man at Harvard and Columbia in Adams Morgan, but there weren't any more details.

It's tough to say who is at fault in the second incident, but both serve as examples of why you should be careful out there and don't run across the street when it's not a crosswalk with a walk signal -- I see that a lot on 14th Street.

Unfortunately, the 14th/Park/Kenyon intersection never makes any sense for pedestrians: it seems like the lights are all red and no cars are going, and yet there are only don't walk signals, so people just start crossing. I'm surprised there haven't been more accidents there between pedestrians and vehicles.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Interesting wheat pastes in the neighborhood

Lately I've spotted a series of wheat-pasted pictures on electrical boxes, lamp posts, and such around the neighborhood: various pictures of people, plus the addition of some QR codes, the funny looking patterns, which are similar to UPC codes. A lot of smart phones have apps where you can scan them and it goes to a website or plays a song or something. I'm guessing they're related, but not sure who is putting them up aside from a band that plays "psychedelic doo-wop metal."

Anyone scanned these to see what they are?

A City Divided: AU journalism students on changes in Columbia Heights

Just got a press release from American University announcing their "A City Divided" website, which is written by students at their journalism graduate school. A number of the articles are about Columbia Heights, mostly about gentrification and changes in the neighborhood. It's an interesting idea, but to me, some of the articles miss the mark a little.

The one about people being priced out of Mt. Pleasant and Columbia Heights, for example, talks about group houses getting replaced by families. That seems like a tangential part of the issue (though I didn't actually watch the video, since I'm at work). Another article focuses on Bruce Monroe School, which was demolished. DCPS said they'd rebuild it, but that may not happen, which has angered residents. However, the article doesn't mention the new mixed use development that may come to the school's former location.

There's a few others too, like this video called Contradictions: New and Old in Columbia Heights.

What do you think? Good coverage of the issue?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

No kosher Chanukah candles available in the neighborhood?

The Jewish holiday of Chanukah started at sundown last night, commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem and a miracle where a small supply of oil burned for 8 days.

However, you may have trouble if you're looking in the neighborhood for candles for your menorah: I just heard from a Jewish friend who said that apparently no stores in the neighborhood sell kosher Chanukah candles.

My friend went to Giant and didn't find any. She was directed to the ethnic food aisle, which has kosher votive candles but no Chanukah candles. The DCUSA Target has a small Chanukah section with menorahs, but again no candles. There's also a huge Christmas candle section, pictured here, about which my friend had this to say: "what really pissed me off is that Xmas is still 4 weeks away and all these places had those decorations, but none of Chanukah which was THAT night."

You can't use any old candle for Chanukah -- Chanukah candles are kosher (blessed by a rabbi), are small, and also burn much longer than other candles. My friend had to use birthday candles, also pictured here. She noted the birthday candles "look silly, they aren't kosher and they don't last for very long," about 20 minutes, while Chanukah candles generally burn for a few hours.

Anyone know of some nearby places to get Chanukah candles?

How to recycle for the holidays

Christmas, Hannukah and the like are great times, but they often create a lot of trash. The city's Department of Public Works has a useful flyer on what kinds of holiday stuff you can recycle in the city-provided recycling bins. For example, I didn't know you could recycle plastic bags in the city bins.

Take a look here or read below. It's in English and Spanish.

Holiday RECYC 10 11 Season WEB

Holiday sale at Past Tense Yoga on Saturday

Past Tense Yoga Studio on Mt. Pleasant Street (and one of this site's sponsors) is having their annual holiday sale on Saturday from 2-6 pm at their studio. Sounds pretty neat, here's the details:
It's called the Gift of Fab and features a mix of artisans selling great holiday gifts. A few of our participants include:
* Mirasa, a company started by one of our staffers Aashumi Shah. She creates eco-friendly, handmade toys for kids.
* Skincando, a skin care line created by Sara Damelio, another local.
* Ella Sport, a line of athletic wear.
* Jewelry by Simply Girl Designs. AND Calamarie.

We have several others joining us as well and really will have something for everyone on your list.
Past Tense is located at 3253 Mt. Pleasant Street NW.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Community Marketplace planning meeting tomorrow

The Columbia Heights Community Marketplace just finished its successful first season a few weeks ago, but it's not too early to think about next year. They're holding a planning meeting tomorrow and community members are welcome to come and give input. Here's the details:
We invite you to attend the board and planning meeting for the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace on Thursday, December 2 (tomorrow) at 7 p.m. in the second floor community room of the Park Triangle Apartments at 1375 Kenyon Street, NW.

The season is over, but planning for the next has just begun!!

Special to our standing agenda is debriefing on the exciting and successful "Harvest Evening fundraiser" held on Thursday, November 18th, incorporation of the Marketplace, insurance, permitting and review of nomination and election procedures 
for the new board of directors. We hope to have the board elections at the final meeting Thursday, December 16th and seat the new Marketplace Board of Directors on Thursday, January 6, 2011. So, if you're interested, come on out!

Work at DCUSA -- maybe a cell phone store?

I've gotten a few emails about this -- it looks like there's some kind of work going on in DCUSA, the space next to the main entrance. There's a ton of Verizon ads covering the windows, including an electronic one which is actually kind of cool.

The door to the space was open a few days ago and a guy was inside. I stuck my head in to ask what was going in. He said only "nothing" and was pretty gruff about it, which leads me to believe that something actually is going in. I don't know if that space will be a Verizon store or if they were just putting up ads, but it's possible. There's a T-Mobile store facing the Civic Plaza across the street.

I hope it's not, as a cell phone place is not the most vibrant retail spot we could have. Would be nice to get a bookstore or any number of things besides, say, a bank.

And I've also heard there's some cleaning up going on in the space between Mattress Discounters and the Vitamin Shoppe. Hmmm.

The old plans for DCUSA didn't have any proposed tenant for that space.

If you have any tips or questions, feel free to email me: newcolumbiaheights(at)gmail(dot)com.

Weird Craigslist missed connection about Columbia Heights girls

You're probably familiar with Craigslist's Missed Connections section, where people post when somebody caught their eye, but maybe they didn't have a chance or were too shy to actually talk to them.

Usually they're amusing or sweet, sometimes infuriating (just go talk to them!), but then there's this one a friend forwarded me:

 It's kind of funny, but it's also kind of creepy.